Pots, Middlemen, and the "Shopkeeper" Hypothesis in the Hohokam Sedentary Period

Author(s): Joshua Watts

Year: 2015


While ceramic analysts now report with some confidence where most Phoenix Basin Hohokam pottery was manufactured and where it was eventually discarded, we simply cannot use those two data points on their own to describe the exchange rules and distribution networks that moved pottery from specialist producers to consumers throughout the region. Agent-based modeling methods provide a powerful toolkit for interpreting complex spatial and distributional patterns in the archaeological record, and for identifying hypotheses to test with empirical data. To that end, I implemented a relatively simple agent-based model of pottery exchange informed by the Hohokam case, and compared the output from many simulations to ceramic data from 39 sites in the Phoenix Basin occupied during the Middle Sacaton. Unexpectedly, the model configurations most consistent with the actual archaeological record relied on market-based rulesets for trade and village-based middlemen retailers who acquired pottery wholesale from producers and distributed it to nearby households. Current interpretations of the Middle Sacaton economy hypothesize periodic marketplaces linked to Hohokam ball courts. The modeling approach adopted for this research instead encourages investigating the middleman retailer hypothesis. What would a Hohokam "shopkeeper" look like, and what archaeological evidence would be needed to assess that hypothesis?

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Cite this Record

Pots, Middlemen, and the "Shopkeeper" Hypothesis in the Hohokam Sedentary Period. Joshua Watts. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396103)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;